Battle at Bighorn a Battle to Stay Awake

By George WhiteJuly 31, 2001, 4:00 pm
I wanted to write something nice, really nice, about Monday nights Battle at Bighorn. But what Ive got nice to say, I can say in one sentence ' the left-handed recovery shots were certainly different.
The network, the golfers and an unending array of commercials didnt leave anything positive to say. The one thing that can be taken from this format is ' dont try it again. At least not under the Monday night conditions.
It was embarrassing to watch. The two best men and the two best women team up and you could expect at least a few electrifying moments. It was evident that all four tried, but it just didnt come off. I read Tuesday morning that the winds were high. And the greens rock-hard. The format was different. So, no ones going to shoot 65. But that nonsense ' puh-leeze!
To begin with, lets pinpoint where to start the blame ' the network. The players were already on the first green when ABCs telecast came on the air. Didnt that seem strange? Worse yet, there was no replays of the drives or approach shots. All we saw was Tiger Woods off the green and David Duval with a long putt. Oh ' it ended with a bogey for both. That, unfortunately, was standard fare for the evening.
Now, point No. 2 ' several times later in the telecast, we either didnt see a players shot or got a peek just as he/she was beginning to hit. A long putt by Woods. A decent bunker shot by Karrie Webb. There were only two balls in play and one match, so you would expect to see all the shots. Uh-uh.
Which brings up the teeth-grating commercials. It looked like a never-ending attempt to peddle sales items, interrupted by a little golf. Looking back this morning, I cant remember a single one. Oh yeah ' Tiger driving the vehicle in a particularly silly commercial, the one where a tornado hits in a 15-foot area, vehicles are tossed around, and when it finally passes, Woods is in a different drivers seat.
When the commercials werent going on ad nauseum, the interviews were. Judy Rankin, normally a terrific questioner, must have been asked to get something from Duval about the British Open title. The interview came off particularly strained. Duval did his best, but the question was vague ' something about how the week has been ' and the interview was conducted en route from tee to green after Duval plunked one in the sand.
Then, to compound the folly, they blew Webbs bunker shot. This was not for a commercial, which I guess would have been a little more understandable. It was because of Rankins attempt to get something of interest out of Duval, his futile attempt to cooperate, and then the banter between Curtis Strange and Mike Tirico.
Some of the putts were absolutely pathetic, and Im not sure if that should be blamed on the putt-ee, or on the fact that she/he was in a difficult position and the grounds crew had over-cooked the greens speed. Annika Sorenstam and Webb each stroked putts which passed the cup and picked up speed, finally dying about 60 feet past the pin. Each putt was above the hole. The putts were stroked too hard, granted, but neither woman is that bad. Then a 60-foot putt by Duval ended up eight feet short. That time, there were no excuses.
I fell asleep after the 17th hole, so I cant judge the remainder of play. But here is an amateurs assessment:
Four professionals - two women and two men - meet for a golf match and come away looking like country club hackers. Was it the lack of course knowledge? The wind? The firmess of the greens? You know all four golfers were trying as hard as they could. Somehow, though, the pratfalls got worse and worse. After awhile, it got comical, watching the games four best players swat at the ball in futility.
That was all excusable, though, because they are still human. What is NOT excusable is the sloppy production values. Too many commercials were sold, and that is because the network bid too high a price for the match. Every shot should have been shown ' after all, they do it in the Skins Game, and that doesnt hold anywhere near the potential interest of a mixed foursome such as this.

What evolved was an embarrassment. That is a real shame.
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry